The Zone : The Anger Zone
The Anger Zone
By Tom Evans
Anger is a weird and powerful force.
Like gravity, we know it exists and that it is extremely pervasive. We can feel its significant external influence but nobody can see it. It only exists initially in the mind of the angry person but it has a long lasting reach that can spread like wild fire.
Anger too has its shades and degrees, starting with disgruntlement and ending up in out and out violence. We have to treat anger with kid gloves. It can be healthy to vent it. If we bottle it up, the pressure cooker can blow. Clearly a strategy for anger management would be useful.
Sometimes it’s impossible to prevent yourself from being angry, even from the most trivial of causes. Perhaps someone pushes in front of you in a queue. So what if you have to wait a little longer to get served? Perhaps the other person pushed in front of you unintentionally or had something going on in their life that had put them into another Danger Zone.
So what if you see something on the news that makes your blood boil? If someone had injured someone else, what is needed is compassion not anger. Getting enraged only pours more fuel on the fire of the root causes of the problem.
Now of course, that’s really easy to say, or to write, but when it comes to managing our anger, it can be a constant battle to keep calm, requiring almost constant vigilance on our part. For example, you may well be quite good at managing your internal state should transgressions be made against you. If one of your loved ones gets crossed however, you can all too easily get very angry on their behalf.
To complicate things still further, repressed anger can dramatically affect our health and well-being. It’s quite possible that depression, and even some cancers and strokes, are seeded by bottling things up.
Fortunately though, anger can be easily neutralised and transmuted by slipping into either a Doing or Being Zone. So if something makes you flip your lid, why not slide into the Creative Zone and do something about it?
For example, I wrote a complaining letter, but in humorous rhyme, to an airline recently only because they had changed my preferred seat allocation on the plane. Note that the cause of the anger was trivial in the extreme and I only got angry as my partner was disgruntled. Imagine my surprise when I received an apologetic, funny poem in response and when a bottle of champagne arrived a few weeks later. This was like a ‘First Class Upgrade’ straight to the Happy Zone.
This is a classic example of how better results can be achieved simply by moving to a zone with more positivity. If someone crossed a boundary, perhaps it’s a disguised cry for your help. Showing some kindness and cutting a little slack is the most fantastic and rapid way to turn a transgressor into an ally.
When anger kicks in, we are allowing our innate animal nature to take over from our logical persona. If we let it go too far, feuds will start either internally in our heads or externally with our transgressors and enemies. If we hurt someone else, we are only hurting ourselves.
So when anger visits, the first course of action is to nip it in the bud at the earliest opportunity. If you slip into the livid zone though, it’s time for drastic action. So take a breather, sleep on it and slide over to the Creative Zone and work out how all parties can kiss, make up and apologise.
For vengeful and psychotic behaviour, external intervention is probably the only recourse. Traditionally pharmaceuticals may temporarily suppress and manage the behaviour, noting that self administered drugs or alcohol will just fan the flames. What can produce amazing results though is skillful and professional mediation and group work.
With perspective comes 20:20 hindsight which may lead to the ability to simply brush the source of irritation away. What then happens is that the things and people that used to annoy us seem to magically vanish from our world. •
Next: The Sadness Zone »
Renaissance Man and Imagineer Tom Evans is the author of four books and counting about creativity. More »